Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammāsambuddhassa

Introduction to 1.4.7: Karaṇīyametta Suttaṃ
(Pursuing their own Good) – Part One

     This Karaṇīyametta Suttaṃ, also called Mettasuttaṃ, is one of the best known suttas and used as protective chanting (paritta) in many countries . It was taught by the Buddha at the time of the rain retreats to a group of five hundred Bhikkhus who had received their instructions for meditation (pañcamattāni bhikkhusatāni bhagavato santike kammaṭṭhānaṃ uggahetvā) and had withdrawn to a suitable secluded place at the feet of the Himalayan Mountains whose surface glittered like blue quartz crystal. There were cool, green and dense forest groves with inviting jewel like sandy grounds with a clean spring of refreshing, sweet water (……gantvā paccante himavantena saddhiṃ ekābaddhaṃ nīlakācamaṇisannibhasilātalaṃ sītalaghanacchāyanīlavanasaṇḍamaṇḍitaṃ muttājālarajatapaṭṭasadisavālukākiṇṇabhūmibhāgaṃ sucisātasītalajalāsayaparivāritaṃ pabbatamaddasaṃsu……) in the vicinity of a town where the inhabitants where joyful to serve the needs of the monks and begged them to stay over the rains. Full of zeal the Bhikkhus devoted themselves to their meditation. The forest gods felt disturbed and left their dwelling resorts in the trees and were wandering back and forth, wondering how long these Bhikkhus were to remain there. When they realised that the Bhikkhus were going to stay for the full rainy season they decided to harass them in various ways by terrible sounds and visions. When the Bhikkhus related their experiences to each other during their regular gathering they decided to return to the Buddha to ask him whether they could move to another resting place, in spite of the strict rule for a Bhikkhu to remain at a chosen place during the entire rainy season and not to wander about: (Atha kho bhagavā ……bhikkhū āmantesi – ‘‘na, bhikkhave, vassaṃ upagantvā purimaṃ vā temāsaṃ pacchimaṃ vā temāsaṃ avasitvā cārikā pakkamitabbā. Yo pakkameyya, āpatti dukkaṭassā’’ti.) “Do not, oh Bhikkhus, once having entered for your rain retreat set out during either the first three months or the last three months . He who does so is committing an offence of wrong-doing!”

     The rule was made after people had complained that the Bhikkhus, the sons of the Sakyans, by wandering about in the period of cold, heat and during the rains, may trample down crops and grasses, injuring life of plants and destroy the life of many small living beings. (Manussā ujjhāyanti khiyyanti vipācenti – ‘‘kathañhi nāma samaṇā sakyaputtiyā hemantampi gimhampi vassampi cārikaṃ carissanti, haritāni tiṇāni sammaddantā, ekindriyaṃ jīvaṃ viheṭhentā, bahū khuddake pāṇe saṅghātaṃ āpādentā.)

     When the Buddha questioned the arrived Bhikkhus about the reason of their return: “There should be no wandering about during the rains, this training rule has been established by me, so why are you wandering?” - (“na, bhikkhave, antovassaṃ cārikā caritabbāti mayā sikkhāpadaṃ paññattaṃ, kissatumhe cārikaṃ carathā”) they explained the matter to him. He then advised them to return to the same place and practice Metta towards all beings by teaching them this sutta: (……sace pana devatāhi abhayaṃ icchatha, imaṃ parittaṃ uggaṇhatha. Etañhi vo parittañca kammaṭṭhānañca bhavissatī”ti idaṃ suttamabhāsi.) — ‘If you wish to be free from fear of these Devas, then acquire these protective verses, they will be a safeguard and a subject of meditation for you!’

     Although the Karaṇīyametta Suttaṃ truly highlights the awesome state of a pure mind in a unique way of someone practising lovingkindness in its ultimate form will get presented in chapter five (see lesson 4.3.8) its introductionary verses depict the noble demeanour of someone, who desires his own welfare and wishes properly to attain the Ultimate Peace of Nibbāna. These perfections maintain a deep source of inspiration for the recollection of the Saṅgha`s qualities and may encourage to make them an example for oneself, such as:

suvaco: When told – “This should not be done!” one replies: “What has been seen by you? What has been heard by you? Who are you to tell me, are you a preceptor, a teacher, a friend, a companion?” (‘‘idaṃ na kattabba’’nti vutto ‘‘kiṃ te diṭṭhaṃ, kiṃ te sutaṃ, ko me sutvā vadasi, kiṃ upajjhāyo ācariyo sandiṭṭho sambhatto vā’’ti vadeti), or one simply remains silent, or one accepts but does not follow it up one is far away from attaining any distinction. (tuṇhībhāvena vā taṃ viheseti, sampaṭicchitvā vā na tathā karoti, so visesādhigamassa dūre hoti). But if on the other hand he replies, once advised: “Well, Bhante, very well said. It is difficult to be seen by oneself what is to be blamed. May you, if you see me again perform such like, out of compassion approach and tell me likewise, may I for long benefit from your advice in my presence!” (Yo pana ovadiyamāno ‘‘sādhu, bhante suṭṭhu vuttaṃ, attano vajjaṃ nāma duddasaṃ hoti, punapi maṃ evarūpaṃ disvā vadeyyātha anukampaṃ upādāya, cirassaṃ me tumhākaṃ santikā ovādo laddho’’ti vadati) and follows it up accordingly, one is getting closer to attaining any distinction. That is why one should be easily spoken to, accepting the advice of others and acting accordingly. (yathānusiṭṭhañca paṭipajjati, so visesādhigamassa avidūre hoti. Tasmā evaṃ parassa vacanaṃ sampaṭicchitvā karonto suvaco ca assa.)

subharo: (Sukhena bharīyatīti subharo, suposoti vuttaṃ hoti.) Being easily supported, thus he is easily sustained, that is the meaning. ……Whatever he receives, be it coarse or excellent, little or plentiful, he accepts whatever with cheerful and pleased face, this is easily to be supported. (Yo pana yaṃ kiñci lūkhaṃ vā paṇītaṃ vā appaṃ vā bahuṃ vā labhitvā attamano vippasannamukho hutvā yāpeti, esa subharo)

appakicco: He is occupied with little, thus he is of few involvements. He does not get involved in activities, by being fond of getting busy, being fond of conversation, fond of company and such like. (Appaṃ kiccamassāti appakicco, na kammārāmatābhassārāmatāsaṅgaṇikārāmatādianekakiccabyāvaṭo)

santindriyo: With senses calmed: - he has senses that are tranquil, senses unspoiled by desire for enjoyable objects and such like, that is the meaning. (Santāni indriyāni assāti santindriyo, iṭṭhārammaṇādīsu rāgādivasena anuddhatindriyoti vuttaṃ hoti.)

Pāli lesson (with audio) 1.4.7

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Last modified: Thursday, 12 May 2022, 4:01 PM